A graduate from Australia’s Griffith University combined his games design degree with his experience living with profound deafness to create an app set to improve the lives of those with hearing aids.
While studying a Bachelor of Games Design at Griffith, the scholar, Elliot Miller, became interested in interactive design and developed his own ‘serious game’ in the form of an app named Hearoes, which assists cochlear implant and hearing aid recipients learn new sounds in an engaging, self-paced environment.
So-called ‘serious games’ are considered games beyond entertainment and in Elliot’s case, one that can create learning experience outcomes.
“Receiving a bionic ear, also known as a cochlear implant, although an incredible milestone, is like trying to drive a sports car when you don’t have a licence or have never driven a car before,” he said. “I ended up using the learnings from the Griffith University course to create some gamified auditory training exercises to help myself with earning to identify new sounds, which I personally found challenging.”
From there, he ended up showing it to his clinician and releasing it on the app store to help others with their new hearing journey.
Miller was born with sensorineural hearing loss – with mild to severe hearing loss in his right ear, and profound hearing loss in the left side- and was fitted with hearing aids as a child, before receiving a cochlear implant at 25. He noted that it has been a very life-changing experience, especially being able to hear the higher pitches in sounds that I’ve never heard before.
“I’ll always remember the time I was jogging down the street shortly after receiving my bionic ear, and I noticed a sound that I couldn’t identify. I stopped to try and identify this new sound, but the sound stopped as well, and it wasn’t until I got home later that day, I realised it was the coins in my pocket.”
According to Hearing Care Industry Association in 2020, an estimated 3.95 million Australians have hearing loss.
Almost everything around us makes a sound, from the wind howling, to the car indicators, to even leaving the fridge door open for long periods of time and they are not things that you think about, especially if there aren’t any visual references or other feedback associated with it, the engineer stated.
It became a big learning curve for him because although he could hear new sounds, it was very challenging being able to identify them. Hearoes aims to help others on their hearing journey, he noted.
Hearoes is Australia’s first auditory training tool of its kind and has had more than 25,000 sessions, with the activities played more than 80,000 times in the last 12 months alone.
It is described as a user-centric auditory training app and contains more than 50 gamified activities focusing on key and proven modules in auditory training such as environmental sounds, vowels, consonants, sentences and narratives in different accents including Australian and American male and female voices.
The team has some amazing feedback and stories, not only from the recipients but also others involved in the training process, including clinicians, teachers and even parents.
“It’s very motivating being able to help others who are experiencing similar challenges, especially as I’ve faced similar daily challenges myself,” he said.
Hearoes was recently recognised with an Early Innovation Award at the recent Bionics Queensland Challenge and has collaborated with different organisations such as eHealth Queensland, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, as well as Deaf Services.
The Victorian government plans to invest a total of AU$30 million to upgrade and modernise the IT infrastructure of 28 of the state’s hospitals and health services in a bid to guard against further cyber-attacks.
The AU$30 million will be divided amongst hospitals across Melbourne and regional and rural health services. Melbourne hospitals will receive a majority share of nearly AU$22 million, while the remaining AU$8 million will be split between regional and rural health services.
As part of the state government’s Clinical Technology Refresh program, the funding will be used specifically to replace older servers and operating systems with new infrastructure.
The state government touted the new infrastructure will reduce IT outages, improve network speed, support the rollout of Wi-Fi at the bedside of patients, as well as enable the loading and viewing of high-resolution medical imaging, telehealth, and access to clinical support and pathology results from other hospitals.
Victoria’s Minister for Health stated, “We are helping hospitals and health services across Victoria upgrade computers and IT infrastructure to strengthen reliability and cybersecurity. This is about protecting our health services from cyber attacks.”
Last month, surgeries operated by Eastern Health in Victoria were forced to cancel some patient appointments after experiencing a “cyber incident”.
Eastern Health operates the Angliss, Box Hill, Healesville, and Maroondah hospitals, and has many more facilities under management. In a statement, Eastern Health said it took many of its systems offline in response to the incident.
The statement noted that many Eastern Health IT systems have been taken off-line as a precaution while we seek to understand and rectify the situation. It is important to note, patient safety has not been compromised, it added.
Back in 2019, a similar incident affecting Victoria’s hospitals occurred, which resulted in them disconnecting themselves from the internet in an attempt to quarantine a ransomware infection.
At the time, the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet revealed the impacted hospitals were in the Gippsland Health Alliance and the South West Alliance of Rural Health.
The incident occurred shortly after the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) labelled the state’s public health system as highly vulnerable to cyber attacks, with a report flagging that security weaknesses within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) own technology arm are increasing the likelihood of a breach in 61% of the state’s health services.
“There are key weaknesses in health services’ physical security, and in their logical security, which covers password management and other user access controls,” VAGO had written. “Staff awareness of data security is low, which increases the likelihood of success of social engineering techniques such as phishing or tailgating into corporate areas where ICT infrastructure and servers may be located.”
In its audit, VAGO probed three health providers and examined how two different areas of the DHHS – the Digital Health branch and Health Technology Solution – provide health services in the state.
In probing the health services, VAGO said it was also able to access accounts, including admin ones, using “basic hacking tools”. The accounts had weak passwords and no MFA.
The report said that all the audited health services need to do more to protect patient data. It also found that health services do not have appropriate governance and policy frameworks to support data security.
Three initiatives for the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) have been inaugurated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). NIXI will play a significant role in helping Indian entities learn about and adopt IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6). IPv6 is the most recent version of the Internet protocol.
It provides identification and location information for devices and networks connecting to the Internet. A news report explained that the protocol is considered especially important with the impending move to 5G, which will increase the total number of devices connecting to the Internet. Last February, the Department of Telecom (DoT) had mandated all government organisations to transition to IPv6 by March 2020.
It said that IPv6 could offer better traceability and interaction between networks and devices in the future. This is a crucial factor, given the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is expected once 5G networks start rolling in.
NIXI was formed in 2003 and works to provide improved Internet services in the country. It was set up for peering ISPs among themselves to reroute domestic traffic within the country, instead of from abroad. This enhances the quality of service (reduced latency) and reduces bandwidth charges for ISPs by saving on international bandwidth.
IPv6 Expert Panel (IP Guru)
The IP Guru group was created to support Indian entities that have technical trouble migrating to and adopting IPv6. Additionally, the IPv6 expert group will identify and hire agencies to help end customers by providing the necessary technical support to adopt IPv6. The panel will guide and aid IPv6 adoption. It comprises members from DoT, MeitY, and private organisations.
The NIXI Academy educates technical and non-technical people in the country about technologies like IPv6, which are generally not taught in educational institutes. The platform helps network operators and educators understand networking best practices, principles, and techniques. It shows users how to manage Internet resources better and use Internet technologies more effectively.
The NIXI Academy consists of an IPv6 training portal, which was developed by several technical experts. It offers mass training tools. The beginner training materials offered initially will be available for free, but advanced courses may be offered in the future and will be chargeable. Successful candidates (that have passed the examination) will receive a certificate from NIXI, which will be useful to find jobs in the industry.
NIXI has also developed an IPv6 index portal for the Internet community. It will showcase the IPv6 adoption rate in India and across the world. It can be used to compare IPv6 domestic data with other economies in the world. The portal will provide details about IPv6 adoption and traffic, shortly. It is expected to motivate organisations to adopt IPv6. It will collect input and research for planning by technical organisations and academicians.
Organisations and governments aim to abolish the old IPv4 protocol, which was based on 32-bit systems. It could only accommodate 4.3 billion devices. This is not enough for the proliferation of devices connected to the Internet today. IPv6 is more secure, efficient, and mobile-friendly, making it a suitable system for use in the future of 5G. “The idea is that IPv6 addresses will be used as identifiers for both external and internal devices in your organization,” according to a technical policy analyst.
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) recently hosted the STP Platform Experience Day to showcase successful technology use cases that have undergone the STP Platform’s extensive validation process during their pilot phase.
From an automated rodent detection application to disinfecting robots and a preview of AI-powered smart traffic management, the use cases are proof of the growing demand and benefits of the platform’s suite of validation and testing services.
The STP Platform is a dedicated service platform to support the technology development of tech ventures and encourage technology adoption by corporates especially in the areas of AI and Robotics (AIR), smart city, big data, Internet of Things (IoT) and sensors technologies.
The platform builds upon HKSTP’s industry-first validation service for AIR, previously announced in August 2020, featuring unique virtual and physical lab simulation and real-world testing capabilities.
At the Experience Day, use cases tested at the STP Platform during the pilot stage were shared during the panel discussion. Industry experts from the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD), MTR Corporation Limited (MTR), Transport Department and The University of Hong Kong (HKU) shared their expertise on the value and impact of industry-standard simulation and their experience of identifying and honing the right solutions through the validation process.
The CEO of HKSTP stated, “The success of our Park companies is our success. It is encouraging to see the impact and market adoption of their innovations through the STP Platform. The use cases on show at the STP Platform Experience Day are a great demonstration of our living lab philosophy and mission to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies across Hong Kong business. The validation services drive trust, acceptance and confidence in these emerging technologies and further establish Hong Kong businesses as bold pioneers and adopters of game-changing innovations.”
Reducing technology risk, uncertainty and adoption barriers
The STP Platform addresses the biggest barriers to the development and commercial adoption of emerging technologies. Validation of innovation is often expensive, time-consuming and limited by physical constraints and the lack of benchmarks for a fair comparison. The STP Platform offers corporates an independent performance evaluation tool, allowing them to test different solutions accurately and cost-effectively under numerous user scenarios.
The STP Platform overcomes major obstacles in technology adoption among businesses by delivering three key benefits:
- High cost-performance (CP) value. The performance of different image recognition solutions were evaluated in a case that tested their ability to recognise rodents. This enables a like-for-like and impartial comparison so that corporates make an informed decision on which solution best balances their performance and budget.
- Versatile testing capability. The platform’s highly versatile testing capabilities were demonstrated by evaluating disinfection robots under an unlimited set of environments. The STP Platform’s virtual lab can accurately simulate different real-world settings ranging from hotels to shopping malls. Additional integration with physical testing removes a host of limitations and time constraints and further validates the virtual simulation results.
- Risk-free validation. The STP platform reduces the risks of limited testing data, inaccurate projections and unfavourable outcomes. The platform provides a comprehensive preview over a longer period with unlimited scenarios, enabling better forecast for making decisions and reducing cost. HKSTP’s Smart Transportation Challenge which was hosted in March, saw solution providers using the simulation technology of STP Platform to visualise their traffic congestion solutions and test their performance.
With ongoing effort, the STP Platform will develop more datasets and simulation scenarios to further expand and enhance modelling capabilities. It has a clear vision to offer richer standards and benchmarks to support a wider variety of industries and applications. The platform is constantly evolving to test and validate more cutting-edge technology areas for the banking and finance, real estate, construction sectors and more.
The Indian Supreme Court recently launched its first artificial intelligence-driven research portal, the Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Court’s Efficiency (SUPACE). It is an AI-enabled assistive tool to improve the efficiency of legal researchers and judges by aiding the extraction of relevant information about a case. It can read case files, manage teamwork, and draft case documents.
As per a news report, the portal is accessible through a login ID and password. It provides easily accessible summaries, files, and documents of cases in the database. Tasks and the details of progress and people are also displayed. A universal search allows a user to scan through all the files in the database.
Through the portal, the Supreme Court intends to leverage machine learning to deal with the large amount of data received while case filing. Chief Justice SA Bobde, who inaugurated the portal, described it as a “hybrid system” and “a perfect blend of human intelligence and machine learning”.
The news report outlined the four parts of SUPACE’s AI-powered workflow:
- File Preview: The case files, typically available as PDFs, can also be converted into text. There is also a search tool to browse through the case files.
- Chatbot: The text and voice-enabled chatbot provides a quick overview of the case, by answering questions such as “What is the matter about?” or “Which fundamental rights of the petitioner are violated?” The Chatbot can switch between documents for the answer while allowing the user to check the source. It suggests further questions for a better understanding of the case. The user can print the entire question summary.
- Logic Gate: The fact extraction system for the chatbot is divided into four parts: Synopsis, FAQs, Evidence, and Case Law. These give information about the case such as the overview, chronology, and judgement. In the near future, with enough training and refinement of the algorithm, the chatbot will have the ability to answer any questions about the case- whether factual or contextual.
- Notebook: The portal offers an integrated word processor. The user can produce a summary of the case by simply collating all information auto-extracted from the database using the AI tool. Further, the portal offers a voice dictation option to prepare notes. Therefore, without typing a word, a summary document can be prepared as a soft or hard copy.
Justice L Nageswara Rao, who was present during the unveiling, is the current chairman of the Supreme Court’s Artificial Intelligence Committee. SUPACE has been designed to only process information and make it available to the Judges. Government officials have stressed the portal will not be involved in the decision-making of a case. For now, only the Judges in the Delhi and Bombay High Courts that deal with criminal cases will use the portal on an experimental basis. According to Justice SA Bobde, AI is better at processing words and figures and will only collect the data, discover facts, and present it to the Judges. The final call will rest with the Judges. AI in the judiciary system enables the automation of mundane processes. Legal teams have to process numerous amounts of data and implementing AI will reduce pendency and costs and increase speed and efficiency.
Researchers at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute have developed a promising new process that could eliminate water stress for millions of people, including those living in many of the planet’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. A team led by Associate Professor Haolan Xu has refined a technique to derive fresh water from seawater, brackish water, or contaminated water, through highly efficient solar evaporation, delivering enough daily fresh drinking water for a family of four from just one square metre of source water.
At the heart of the system is a highly efficient photothermal structure that sits on the surface of a water source and converts sunlight to heat, focusing energy precisely on the surface to rapidly evaporate the uppermost portion of the liquid. While other researchers have explored similar technology, previous efforts have been hampered by energy loss, with heat passing into the source water and dissipating into the air above.
“Previously many of the experimental photothermal evaporators were basically two dimensional; they were just a flat surface, and they could lose 10 to 20 per cent of solar energy to the bulk water and the surrounding environment,” Dr Xu says. “We have developed a technique that not only prevents any loss of solar energy but actually draws additional energy from the bulk water and surrounding environment, meaning the system operates at 100 per cent efficiency for the solar input and draws up to another 170 per cent energy from the water and environment.”
In contrast to the two-dimensional structures used by other researchers, the team developed a three-dimensional, fin-shaped, heatsink-like evaporator. Their design shifts surplus heat away from the evaporator’s top surfaces (i.e., solar evaporation surface), distributing heat to the fin surface for water evaporation, thus cooling the top evaporation surface and realising zero energy loss during solar evaporation.
This heatsink technique means all surfaces of the evaporator remain at a lower temperature than the surrounding water and air, so additional energy flows from the higher-energy external environment into the lower-energy evaporator.
The team are the first researchers in the world to extract energy from the bulk water during solar evaporation and use it for evaporation, and this has helped their process become efficient enough to deliver between 10 and 20 litres of fresh water per square metre per day.
In addition to its efficiency, the practicality of the system is enhanced by the fact it is built entirely from simple, everyday materials that are low cost, sustainable and easily obtainable.
The main aim of their research was to deliver for practical applications, so the materials we used were just sourced from the hardware store or supermarket, Assoc Prof Xu said. “The only exception is the photothermal materials, but even there we are using a very simple and cost-effective process, and the real advances we have made are with the system design and energy nexus optimisation, not the materials.”
In addition to being easy to construct and easy to deploy, the system is also very easy to maintain, as the design of the photothermal structure prevents salt and other contaminants building up on the evaporator surface. Together, the low cost and easy upkeep mean the system developed by the team could be deployed in situations where other desalination and purification systems would be financially and operationally unviable.
In remote communities with small populations, for example, the infrastructure cost of systems like reverse osmosis often too great to justify. However, the team’s technique could deliver a very low-cost alternative that would be easy to set up and essentially free to run. Moreover, as the system is simple and requires virtually no maintenance, there is no technical expertise needed to keep it running and upkeep costs are minimal.
Assoc Prof Xu stated that the technology has the potential to provide a long-term clean water solution to people and communities who can’t afford other options, and these are the places such solutions are most needed. In addition to drinking water applications, the team is currently exploring a range of other uses for the technology, including treating wastewater in industrial operations.
Singapore recognises that threats to an open, secure, and peaceful cyberspace are increasingly sophisticated, transboundary, and asymmetric. As a small and highly connected State that has been the subject of several cyber-attacks, Singapore is strongly committed to the establishment of an international rules-based order in cyberspace. This will serve as a basis for trust and confidence between the Member States and enable economic and social progress. To reap the full benefits of digital technologies, the international community must develop a secure, trusted, and open cyberspace underpinned by international law.
On a podcast by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), co-hosts Jim Lewis and Chris Painter talked with David Koh, Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA). They discussed how interoperable systems and an international rules-based consensus can help boost cybersecurity.
Mr Koh said that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports the ideology of countries working together in an international interoperable economic system. He added that Singapore has benefited significantly from this global trend by reaping the benefits of free-flowing trade and information, goods, and services. This has resulted in inter-connected supply chains which increases information and data flows. Knowing this, Mr Koh said that this is also the ideal scenario for digitalisation. Countries should work together as one in trying to achieve full digital transformation, which can be attained by having a secured and interoperable internet.
Mr Koh also discussed the fact that Singapore welcomes the establishment of a UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and the decision to convene an Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG). The CSA believes that the work of the GGE and the OEWG can and should be complementary in tackling issues like cyber resiliency. The major players need to promote interoperability and work together, in the spirit of consensus, mutual respect and mutual trust.
At the regional level, Singapore has worked with fellow Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to issue the first ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Cybersecurity Cooperation during the 32nd ASEAN Summit in April 2018. In the Statement, ASEAN Leaders reaffirmed the need for a rules-based international order in cyberspace. They also tasked relevant Ministers to identify a suitable mechanism or platform for coordinating cybersecurity policy, diplomacy, cooperation, technical and capacity building efforts across ASEAN, as well as a concrete list of voluntary, practical norms of State behaviour in cyberspace that ASEAN can also adopt.
At the national level, Singapore has made significant strides in strengthening the cybersecurity of its local systems and networks on three fronts – building resilient infrastructure, creating safer cyberspace, and developing a vibrant cybersecurity ecosystem.
Furthermore, Mr Koh said that to achieve true cyber resilience, there should be accountability and a rules-based international system. One example of an international rules-based framework is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea where countries included in the treaty follow rules and regulations uniformly. Mr Koh said that a framework like the UNCLOS can be applied in cybersecurity as well so that there is a wider adoption amongst countries.
Mr Koh conceded that the major challenge in cyberspace is the fact that the internet was not originally designed with security in mind, and the dimensions it is based on anonymity. This anonymity may not be ideal especially when it comes to secure banking transactions, financial systems, and cybersecurity as a whole.
Mr Koh believes that accountability must be integrated into trying to achieve cyber resiliency, that is why the CSA is empowering organisations and governments to boost their technical capabilities for them to call out bad behaviour and identify who is responsible for malicious actions in the cyber domain. Mr Koh emphasised that reducing anonymity can greatly mitigate threats and crimes in the digital space.
An electronic marketplace to provide a platform that connects aquaculture farmers and potential buyers has been inaugurated by the Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. Through the portal, farmers will get better prices on their products. It also allows exporters to purchase directly from farmers, enhancing traceability, which is a key factor in international trade. The portal will act as a bridge between the fishermen and buyers, within the country and abroad.
The portal is called e-SANTA and stands for Electronic Solution for Augmenting NaCSA farmers’ Trade in Aquaculture. NaCSA or the National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture is an extension under the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
At the virtual launch, Goyal noted that e-SANTA will raise income, independence, quality, and traceability. It will improve standards of living and provide new options for aqua farmers. He said that the platform will “change the traditional way of carrying out business”.
According to a press release, e-SANTA is a “digital bridge” to end the market divide. It will function as an alternative marketing tool by eliminating the middleman. It provides a cashless, contactless, and paperless electronic trade method between farmers and exporters.
The farmers have the freedom to list their produce and quote their prices. Similarly, exporters have the freedom to list their requirements and choose the products based on the desired size, location, and harvest dates. This enables the farmers and buyers to have greater control over the trade, allowing them to make informed decisions. The platform offers detailed specifications of each product listing and is backed by an end-to-end electronic payment system, with NaCSA as an escrow agent.
After the crop listing and online negotiation, a deal is struck, an advance payment is made, and an estimated invoice is generated. Once the harvest date is fixed, the buyer goes to the farm gate and the produce is harvested with them present. When the harvest is completed, a final count is taken, the quantity of material is verified, and a delivery receipt is issued. After the material reaches the processing plant, the final invoice is generated, and the exporter makes the balance payment. This payment is reflected in the escrow account. NaCSA verifies it and accordingly releases the payment to farmers.
In the future, e-SANTA could become an auction platform by enabling the collective advertising of products that the buyers, fishermen, and fish-producing organisations are harvesting. People in India and abroad can know what is available through the website. The platform is available in several languages, making it accessible for the local population.
Goyal also outlined challenges for farmers in traditional aqua farming, including, market monopoly and exploitation. On the other hand, exporters often face inconsistency and quality gaps in the products they purchase. He claimed that e-SANTA has the potential to bring substantive improvements in farmers’ lives and enhance India’s reputation in global trade.
According to Goyal, the government is committed to the welfare of farmers and NaCSA initiatives have the potential to change the map of marketing of aqua products in the country. NaCSA aims to encourage and uplift small and marginal farmers through the organisation of clusters and by maintaining best management practices in aquaculture.